Our group went to Puerto Rico before going to Panama for basic training. I met so many really fine people in this experience, I wish I had kept in touch with many of them.
We did physical stuff in PR. We repelled off a dam, I really liked doing that, it was so much easier than rock climbing where my hips and legs were black and blue from falling. Going We did drown-proofing and I jumped from a really really high diving board. I am still a nonswimmer and though they nearly had to push me off I finally jumped. A hike during which I nearly got heat exhaustion. I had gone from Minnesota weather to Puerto Rico weather with a short break in New York (where we grouped) and my body had trouble keeping up. We also did an obstacle course! I loved this time in PR even when we had to get up early for exercises, no sleeping in!. After Puerto Rico, we had some classes, Spanish of course, the culture of Panama, diet and music and dress, in Missouri, during which I was hospitalized with back pain and fever, thought to be dengue, endemic in PR. while everyone else went for a fun special event.
A quick trip home to MN to pack up and find out who passed, I did, and on to Panama. Did I ever use those skills learned? Nope, but it did test our strengths and weakness and not all of our group was forwarded to Panama.
It was pouring rain when we arrived, not an unusual event, dignitaries awaited us in the airport. We ran. This is when in a roundtable of identifying ourselves to the dignitaries, that I introduced myself in Spanish saying I was sick instead of I am a nurse and only realized it when I saw smiles and questionable looks from everyone. From there we were housed in a hotel, very nice and met our leaders. I bet that they had never seen a sheet hanging from the balcony. I had a pretty severe case of Montezuma revenge. too much information? We were assigned our ‘towns; I said I would like to work with the Indians and was assigned El Real of the Darién province. And that is beginning of my story.